Well said!

From John Smedley in an interview at TheMitanni.com:

At some point as an industry we need to realize that we have already lost the race to outpace players in making content. … The problem is you get to the endgame and as game makers it’s not just expensive. it’s impossible to stay ahead of the curve…We need to focus on game systems that are perpetual and give players a lot more control over what they can do rather than JUST putting yet another dragon in front of them with scripted content. We need to be doing both in order to be successful. And that’s our plan.

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Moving the alliance

The Inception

A few weeks back, an idea was floated to the alliance:

What did we think about moving into a C6 wormhole?

With EVE, everything is about setting personal goals and continuing to move towards it. As you achieve goals and accomplish tasks, the need to set a new goal often arises. Somehow, I’ve gone from being a terrible spaceship pilot, to joining a corporation I mesh with, going into a C3 wormhole completely unprepared for it, then joining an alliance that LIVES in a C5, and now, invading a C6 wormhole to help its inhabitants realize we live there.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The idea was to move up to the greater profitability (and danger), of a C6 wormhole. As a corporation, we seem to be outgrowing our britches rapidly. In the C3, right when we were hitting a groove of complacency, we moved into a C5, which is a couple orders of magnitude more demanding than a C3 – both in terms of logistics, pilot skill, and player skill. Now, less than a month after that, we’re contemplating moving into the highest difficulty of wormhole life.

And critics say EVE is slow.

After the alliance as a whole decided that life in a C6 was the obvious and natural progression of the group, we set to finding out where to go. Spreadsheets ensued. Yes, actual spreadsheets are a common site in EVE life. Much like work, an alliance is often a conglomeration of up to hundreds of people, and organization is crucial. But this spreadsheet was different (sort of). Instead of containing columns of values for various items, and their relative price in Jita, then tallied up and tabulated using functions, THIS was a document used to examine the various qualities of C6 wormholes. As we  chain collapsed to find our way into one, we recorded the information of each potential relocation. All qualities were examined, and ranked as a result. With list in hand, we finally went shopping.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, a strongly ranked choice became available, and we pulled the trigger on the operation planning. By “became available”, I don’t mean to insinuate that it was empty, or we had some nice trade deal worked out to buy it from the current occupant. That’s not how we work. This is the alliance that declares jihad on others for pay. No, we planned on helping convince the resident Russians that their lease had come to an end. Forcefully.

Initiating Plan Alpha

That Thursday, we executed a trip out of our wormhole. A good number of characters left for their favorite trade hub to pick up their choice of the acceptable ship type for the fleet composition. We were to then wait around for the soon to be ex-homeowners to do their sleeper sites of Friday, jump in, flog them mercilessly, and blap some capitals to convince them home sweet home was not so safe anymore. What ended up happening was significantly different.

The plans of mice and men oft go awry, and ours was no different it seemed. Much to our frustration, it looked as if some outside source had run all the sites in our hopeful-home, ensuring a dearth of target capitals to turn into space dust. Then a slew of other potential scheduling problems, manpower limits (in both directions at one point), and late night almost ran this thing into the screeching halt of “we’ll do it later”. Thankfully, that did not happen. Domino’s fell, planets aligned, and a fleet entirely of our alliance worked our way into the new home.

After some a lot patient waiting around, we were FINALLY at a time to strike the enemy. Realizing that sites were gone, we decided the far less entertaining tower-bash would do to send a nice message. Our carefully constructed fleet of reppers and triage was put to excellent use against a derp of epic proportions on the part of the Ruskies (ProTip: You have to set any tower guns to attack people below a certain rating. The default is 0 (zero), so if someone is neutral, it will not attack them). So, what would have normally turned into a somewhat more entertaining experience of hitting guns, and paying attention, turned into a snore fest that was only mildly interrupted by a couple of Moros showing up at clockwork site-running time. It promptly logged off, with all of its comrades. Simultaneously.

Before too long, we had reinforced the tower and all guns, then blown up some small side tower that was sitting defenseless, and erected our own little safe haven in the skies to work from. The enemy tower would come out of reinforcement in 1 day and 8 hours (or something like that), which turned out to be around 8:00 AM EST on Sunday. Right when I would be leaving to go run the sound board for church.

What happened after is second hand information, but all seems to have gone well.

Things get Interesting and Plan Beta

The truth of EVE is that it’s exciting in two ways. Excitement is found in the aggregate of game play, and the political machinations inherent to such a socially dependent game. So, the above events were dreadfully boring in the specifics, but a neat and exciting experience over all. New things, new places, new conflicts and all that. The big-getters of attention in the EVE universe always stem from the political intrigue (and the resulting pew pew). Our corporations zeal to move ahead with our conquest blinded us to the reality of just how small space can really be, and into the quagmire of the political fax pas.

It turns out that the Russians on the receiving end of our forced extraction team were in reality a “sort-of” ally of ours. Yes, we were invading our quasi-friends. You don’t get pretty green arrows or name tags in EVE online, so the waters can be a bit murky at times. So, we felt a bit awkward, but mostly frustrated by our stymied plans. This meant we had to revisit our spreadsheet of glory and chain collapse holes again until we found our new NEW home. I spent the next few days spending time playing EVE by NOT playing EVE. I’d log in if needed to update my queue in the ruskie’s home, but that was it. Others who had the means and tools necessary to find what needed finding went about their job. In time a home was found, and the clarion call for a migration was given.

Our Bastion had been discovered.

Confession of a Spaceship Captain

I’m going to admit something to myself (and you by consequence): Historically, I have been incredibly bad at the game of EVE. That is to say, that I’ve always been almost completely broke, never having any amount of savings, and not having a good kill record. Point of fact, right now, I believe I have about 10 million isk in my bank account. There are reasons for all of this of course, and I like to call them lessons. In EVE, being bad is only a temporary set-back if you learn from it, and I’ve had a lot of lessons in being “bad”, and I think it all boils down to a problem of ambition.

When I first started playing EVE, it was with a mix of many different dreams. There was so much to do, that it all sounded like amazing fun, and I wanted to do all of it. I wanted to do everything. Be the lone-wolf space pirate scourging any care-bear I find. The massive carrier pilot flying with impunity, ready to destroy anyone foolish enough to challenge me. A deep space explorer, finding wormholes and ancient technology. I wanted to build a base and own a corner of the universe with friends to start an empire. Or to fly a fighter ship and enjoy thrilling dogfights in massive air battles for my nation. So much to do!

So of course, I immediately headed for low-sec space. I attacked some people, died a lot. All while watching my sec status quickly plummet to under -5. By the time I started to actually learn what the game was about, and how foolish my first decision had been, shit had gone south. As I joined corporations, I became vividly aware of the realities of sec-status in Empire space. The number of ships I lost to Concord gate-ships easily numbers in the dozens (mostly Caracals). I keenly recall being in Blue Federation, joining a fleet and expressing concern that my sec-status will get me wrecked as I traveled to the 0.9 security system they had designated. I was assured of my safety.

That did not end well.

Consequently, a lot of my time in EVE has been practice in frustration, albeit, good frustration. The time has contained the feeling that persists when trying to solve a problem you KNOW there is a solution to, if you could just work at it a bit longer. A knot or logic problem that you could solve if you just had a little more time… But I get distracted, and go off to pursue another avenue of fun, and the next time, I landed in Null-sec, with a group of players that are good people, but probably not the right fit for my play-schedule. It was a corporation in the Romanian Legion, and I actually learned a lot in my time there. Of jump bridges, jump clones, and star maps.

To stop this from winding further into an abbreviated history of my time in EVE, I’ll summarize the sentiment with this: I never approached EVE with a concrete plan. I bounced around like a suger-high three-year old in shiny object factory. This last month of play for me has been very directed and intentional (for lack of a better word). I’m still a bit broke, but it’s from purchasing investments as opposed to loses. My plans going forward are to place myself on what is a more traditional evolutionary play-track for the game, perhaps 29 million skill-points later than usual. Once I feel I have a solid handle and a happy cushion in my wallet, I’ll see about moving onto other endeavors.

This is one of the great things about EVE, no matter where you may be, you can still achieve in the game, because all your goals and markers are of your own making. Success is defined by the player.

Impressive

Best video I’ve seen to date for the Eve is Real campaign. This was insanely well done.

Hackers, Developers, and Forums. Oh my!

image

There has been a whole lot going on of late in the world surrounding everyone’s favorite sandbox, EVE. It seems like real life is imitating art; stretches of relative quiet followed by moments of intense activity and drama. And we all get a front.row seat.

By now, I’m sure you have heard of the DDoS attacks on EVE, by the same group that have allegedly hit (to date), sites like League of Legends, CIA, Sony, and Facebook. I see them as a worthless group of hoodlums, striving for attention. The world will be better off when they are eventually caught and prosecuted. I won’t go any further than that commentary.

On the brighter side, CCP is putting out the beta of their new-again forums. They claim to have made tweak to both its usability as well as its security. Both things were clambered for in the previous iteration. I hope they last this time, as I actually enjoyed their previous life, sans the safety holes. In large part, I just want the current awful mess called a forum to go the way of the buffalo.

Lastly, CCP has made an intriguing move on the market of third party app developers. A lot of games have these fans who create tools to help alleviate perceived defects in game or meta-game functionality. Different studios support them to various degrees, and also respect then to differing levels. CCP is going to allow developers a commercial distribution licence, that if they choose to do so, will allow then to charge users/make money (read: ads) from their creation. HOWEVER, before you and I get our panties in a twist, a free non-commercial licence will also be available. It’s something that I am torn all over the place about, and in the end, I don’t think we will really know how it plays out until the reality is tangible in front of us.

Either way, with all this, and Incarna coming to the table in a week, New Eden is seeing some major upheaval. Exciting times.

Drawing a line in the sand(box)

The defining factor that differentiates a sandbox from a themepark is an end goal. Wait, Fallout games are considered sandboxes aren’t they? Okay, so the defining factor that differentiates a sandbox from a themepark MMO is and end goal. Different rules for different genres, I am on board with that, and it makes sense to apply them as such. So, if we proceed with that being the line upon which genre-specific titles fall, then we have a clear definition and understanding of what to expect.

Except things are never that simple.

In the typical sandbox, you set out with a decision of “what do I want to DO?”. Pick a vocation of sorts, or just a type of gameplay, and you can go have at it. Want to be a space tailor? Have at it! Want to be a bar-room dancer? You can still do it, but not as well as you used to. Build ships and sail the open seas, braving the ocean depths with each league? I think you can do that, in a limited fashion at least.  You can play a pirate (space or sea), a trader, a craftsman, a bar owner, an entertainer, a warrior, an assassin, a leader, a manager, an economist, or even a farmer in some games. The goal behind the sandbox is to provide you options of how to play in the world. In themeparks your options are more limited, or sometimes it’s the world that’s limited. What happens when a themepark becomes astoundingly huge, and your options of what you want to play are exhaustive?

This is the question I’ve been bouncing around in my skull for the past couple weeks, and I haven’t really come up with a clear answer.

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It’s just dull

I’ve given Rift what I think is a fair attempt at grabbing me, but it has failed to do so. Unlike some bloggers, I am completely burned out on the themepark design. Whereas long ago I talked about how I was done with PvE games, I think now it has evolved into just being done with themeparks (no, really?). I could maybe play a PvE game in a sandbox, but would probably find it more difficult without the freedom of attacking another player – because at this point the artificial restriction would feel jarring in what should be an open world. I’m not in any way regretting my purchase, because I feel like the money I gave to Trion helped to reinforce what they did right, and what the entire genre should emulate – functionality and stability. It’s not the studio’s fault that I find their design choice to be less entertaining than a presentation on the various methods of mixing paint.

Really, I just find the paradigm, well, dull. So much so, that at this point, I’m having a hard time remembering what it is I like about the set-up to begin with.

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The ol’ college try

Last night, in a Sudafed and NyQuil fueled stuper, I decided to try a game I haven’t really given a fair shake in the past. It’s not a huge triple-A developed venture, and is extremely small population-wise, but it’s something that’s been sticking around and picking up players as it goes. It’s also a sandbox and non-level based, which is a fun twist from the classic MMO structure. I went into it, not really sure what to expect, but I wanted to keep an open mind. The game, (if you hadn’t guessed by now) is Darkfall.

Dun, dun, DUN.

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He has returned

Yesterday, I talked about EVE and the new expansion, and touched VERY briefly on the Sansha invasion. Well, after spending a VERY brief amount of time in-game last, and talking to my corps mates, apparently, shit is hitting the fan. Not in a “players-are-bitching” kind of way, but as in, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. The universe is changing, the enemy is invading systems and TAKING THEM OVER. The kicker to all this? Players can stop it. Yeah, every player out there can go and fight off the invasion if they so desire. WoW players get to play in the aftermath of a world-changing event with Cataclysm. EVE players get to survive it and determine the outcome.

That reality of the game should be astounding. The implications of what it means to the player base should get anyone excited. Hell, I’m getting psyched up just typing about it. In the universe of EVE, players get to have a direct hand in the shaping of their game-reality. So far, I’ve heard reports of up to 850 players in one system fighting back Sansha forces. I’ve also heard of the Nation just waltzing in to completely undefended systems and setting up shop. Players get to decide, players determine the outcome based directly on their involvement, and the cherry on top of it all, is that non-involvement has just as much of an outcome.

So yes, while it is a PvE experience (sort-of), it’s not like one I’ve ever heard of anywhere else. PvE in any other game has been a completely player-driven experience. In the sense that the player sought it out to advance, but if they choose not to partake then it was just there, detached from them in any meaningful way. In EVE, I don’t think players will be able to avoid the impact of Sansha’s Nation. Whether it means hiding in a deep hole of Empire to avoid, or to constantly hop systems around invasion points. Even if you don’t want to participate, you’re play experience will be changed.

That’s part of the beauty of EVE.

Knowing the basics

Tobold fails to understand how EVE works. He played tried halfheartedly logged into it, so he knows all the implications of the recent devblog.

EVE is FULL of PvE. It’s rife with it. You can’t take a jump without running into it. Everywhere you go in EVE you are surrounded by potential PvE interactions. Even in the lowest of low-sec space, PvE is all around you. The kicker is: it’s completely interwoven with PvP, yes even in high-sec empire space.

“Dungeons” already exist in EVE. Every mission (quest) you get from an agent (NPC) spawns a dungeon. Until you start that quest, it did not have en existence. Out in some random far off place that no one would ever go to, objectives, NPC enemies, and intractable objects are generated, except, now anyone with a sensor can track it down too. In EVE “Dungeons” aren’t instanced, the whole world can find them if they’re looking. That’s what makes PvE in EVE both relatively safe, and also potentially dangerous. There’s also no rule to how many people you HAVE to take to these “dungeons”. Some level missions can be easily done solo, others can be done in seconds if you bring a friend. The decision on how to best achieve completion is left to the player.

But hey, I can’t blame a guy for wanting to try to tweak the noses of people who vehemently disagree with him. I can blame him for being completely un-knowledgeable about what he’s speaking, when he should know better.